Born: Leeds, Ala. College: Auburn University Experience: Nine seasons in the National Basketball Association. Position: forward Personal: 6 ft. 6 in., 252 lbs.
Turned pro early: After his junior year at college, he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, who made him the team's first-round pick. Traded: To the Phoenix Suns in June 1992 for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and Andrew Lang. Olympics: Barkley tried out for the United States team in 1984, but was cut. That squad, coached by Bob Knight and led by Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing, easily won the gold medal in Los Angeles. A number of the players on that team failed to make a mark professionally. In 1992, with the debut of American pros in the Games, Barkley became a key player on the "Dream Team," which many have called the greatest team ever assembled. College: Barkley was not a prolific scorer at Auburn, where his highest single-season average was 15.1 points a game, a level he has exceeded in all but his rookie professional season. Statistically, he excelled in shooting percentage: His three-season average was a very high .626. A panel of reporters who regularly cover the Southeastern Conference selected him the league's Player of the Decade. Pro honors: All-Rookie Team (1985); All-NBA second team (1986, 1987, 1988); All-NBA first team (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991). Most valuable player of the 1991 All-Star Game. Pro misc.: When Barkley joined the 76ers, they were one of the best teams in the NBA. But as retirements and trades led to the loss of such veteran stars as Julius Erving and Moses Malone, the Sixers fell into a decline even as Barkley became a household name through endorsement deals and all-star recognition. After reaching the Eastern Conference playoff finals in his rookie year, Philadelphia has enjoyed limited playoff success since, a source of frustration to Barkley, especially the last two years, when
the 76ers failed to make the playoffs. The Barkley factor: With Barkley, Phoenix has gone from last season's .646 winning percentage to .756 - tops in the NBA. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has seen its winning rate drop from .427 to .317.